In spring, ibex gather in the lower valley to feast on freshly sprouted grasses. This is an opportunity not to be missed.
I have just returned from work and felt exhausted from another arduous week. I planned to go on a road trip from Friday to Sunday, but my energy levels were as low as it gets. At this point, I would have rather just stayed home. Contemplating about what is holding me back, I came up with many reasons: It is cozier at home. I need rest for the next week. It is cheaper to stay home. The weather is not very convincing either with snow or rain. The perils of having the luxuries of a nice home.
The perils of having the luxuries of a nice home.
Despite all odds, I packed my camping and photography gear – and left. Some time ago, I had promised myself to seize those opportunity when they arise. Or in other words: Never be lazy.
Off we go to see ibex
After calling up the camping Morteratsch, I drove to the Engadin and arrived shortly before the barrier closes at 10 pm. I set up camp in the dark, had a sandwich and went to bed in my sleeping bag. Surprised by snowfall, I got up and this really added to the overall atmosphere while having breakfast. The soft drumming of the snowflakes on the tent fabric eased my hurries.
Talking to people at the camping reception, I received hints on where to look for ibex. However, it appeared that the animals only come down to the valley later in the day. I set out nevertheless and hiked uphill for a while to get to know the area. Along the way, I encountered a nutcracker – a stunning master of remembering things – as well as a squirrel. My eyes where fixed on the slippery trail, when my peripheral vision recognized an outline. There was a young ibex standing a dozen meters above staring at me while munching his breakfast.. At a second glance, I spotted several other ibexes further above. I was standing still and observed them in the light snow fall.
On my way back, I came across a dropping with a lot of hair in it. I recon it must be from a fox, but it was huge.
Meeting fellow Wildlife Photographers
Obviously, I wasn’t the only person visiting the ibex herd. It’s a known spot and many people visit each year. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the herd of humans can be cumbersome.
The Ugly Side
What annoyed me the most, were the many people who blocked the way of the ibex herd. Even worse, some people tried to get closer and closer, which resulted in slowly chasing them away. Luckily, there were rangers designed to watch after people who misbehave. If these people had just been patiently waiting at one spot, the animals would have come naturally – and much closer. Being patiently standing there, the herd passed me at arm’s length. A memory that will stick with me forever.
Concluding Thoughts on Ibex Safari
Besides the people who did not know how to behave, it was a great trip. I am glad that I wasn’t lazy and seized the opportunity to witness ibex up close. Apart from the pictures and memories, I also edited a short video. Have a look: